Google Files Suit Against Interior Department

November 23, 2010



Google has filed a lawsuit against the Interior Department in an attempt to prevent the agency from going ahead with bid requests to host a cloud-based electronic messaging system.

According to a lawsuit filed in U.S. Court of Federal Claims, Google says they met with Interior Department officials on several occasions asking them to consider them and their “cost saving benefits” and assure them that Google’s applications could care for the agency’s needs.

Google maintains that the Interior Department’s request for quotations was written to prevent the company from competing because it required the system to include the Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite.

In April of 2010 – after a year of communicating with the Interior Department about competing for the contract – Google says they were informed by Interior Department Chief Technology Officer William Corrington that a “path forward had already been chosen” for the service, and that there was no opportunity for Google to compete because it did not comply with Interior Department security requirements, according to the lawsuit.

The contract is estimated to pay $59 million over five years.

Google filed the lawsuit with its partner Onix Networking on Oct. 29.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Google and Microsoft are also competing for a contract to consolidate and modernize email at the General Services Administration.

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Role of federal CIO, CTO influences agencies on cloud

June 15, 2010

As you probably know, the General Services Administration is planning to move the entire agency’s email system to the cloud.

Federal News Radio has been telling you that this is not the first agency to make the move; the Interior Department has already consolidated 12 different systems and moved 80,000 users to the cloud.

From this news, it seems like cloud is no longer just a buzzword — it’s becoming part of the new business of government.

David Link is President and CEO of ScienceLogic, which conducted a survey of federal IT managers and workers earlier this year at FOSE.

Link says one of the many trends the survey showed is that cloud computing seems like it’s here to stay because of the immense presences of federal CIO Vivek Kundra and federal CTO Aneesh Chopra.

“This year is the first time that we’ve had a federal CIO, a federal CTO over all of government IT. One of the questions we asked is — has this new role impacted your IT operations? Actually 56 percent of the people that responded said it absolutely had impacted, and over 30 percent said they were seeing a major impact. Only about 20 percent said it was business as usual, so I think what that means is that the mandates from the top down actually are active, they’re very visible, the word’s getting down to people and engineers and operators that are working in the trenches. That’s a great, positive movement. It’s a great story going forward — that a new role in the government can actually impact the people who [are] literally . . . Doing the job each and every day.”

He also notes that there is a direct connection between cloud and virtualization, which is helping agencies adopt cloud.

“What we saw early on with virtualization [in] the first year of the survey is that a few people had thought it was a key initiative and/or they had projects in place. This last year the adoption has moved up from major hype to adoption — 80 percent of the respondents this year said they had virtualization initiatives. Frankly, virtualization is at the heart of cloud, because it’s all about shared and pooled resources where you can leverage a resource pool really effectively and have the agility that cloud offers where you can stand up IT resources very quickly. Vitualization is really one of the heart and soul key components of cloud offerings.”

It is slow-going, however. The survey showed that adoption of cloud, however, is still relatively low. But interest is high. Link says, in his opinion, this isn’t a plateau or fad, and likens the government’s response to cloud as the same when it comes to IPv6.

“From the very top, Vivek Kundra’s really a thought leader on the cloud . . . with NASA’s initiatives and FedRamp setting standards on cloud initiatives, they’ve really got a lot of people focused on this. As the largest buyer of IT in the world, where the government goes, vendors are going to go. What I see is, they’re really being smart about the approach. They’re trying to figure out where outsourcing to the cloud makes sense — where is it smart? Where can you get the advantages that the nimbleness and scale of the cloud brings straight to government IT operations.”

But what about the money? Will agencies see future funding for cloud computing initiatives? Link says many agencies were helped in the past by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and now agency heads and IT managers are looking at spending differently.

“Some of the huge projects that are multi-year, large awards may not be going as fast because they tend to take a long time, but I think what you’re seeing from a government IT perspective is more of a surgical approach to [solve problems]. There’s a huge initiative where Vivek Kundra has said, by the end of the year, he wants all agencies to put together and put forth their data center consolidation strategy and plan. Data center consolidation is really about figuring out how to collapse and provide more shared services, which is really going to drive adoption of the cloud and virtualization and these core technologies even faster because they’re a key linchpin to getting there.”


GSA: Expect changes to Apps.gov soon

March 25, 2010

Today in our weekly cloud news gathering:

  • Interior’s National Business Center is moving into the cloud. On Federal News Radio’s Ask the CIO this week, host Jason Miller talks with June Hartley, NBC’s chief information officer, who explains why her office is moving into the cloud and what challenges they have faced so far. Click on the audio at the top of the page to listen to the show.
  • The General Services Administration is updating Apps.gov. Information Week reports that a number of changes are on the way, including a new information section, a revamped request for quotations for IaaS and a redesign of some of the user interface portions. The agency didn’t give a specific date, but said you can expect changes “soon”.
  • Also, NASA’s Nebula is growing and growing, and is being considered a cloud computing model. On Federal News Radio’s Federal Drive, hosts Tom Temin and Jane Norris talked with Chris Kemp, the Chief Information Officer of NASA Ames, who says the project is continuing to expand.

Which cloud model will Interior’s National Business Center use?

October 29, 2009

Listen to the second half of FCB’s interview with Doug Bourgeois


As promised, today we bring you the second half of our interview with Doug Bourgeois, Director of the Interior Department’s National Business Center.

Federal Cloud Blog: So, DISA has their cloud computing model that’s a private cloud, are you looking at the same thing? Is it going to be an Interior Department/NBC only cloud that’s government only, or are you looking at a hybrid model?

douglas_bourgeois

Doug Bourgeois, Director, National Business Council, Interior Dept.

Doug Bourgeois: There are multiple cloud models out there. We believe we’ll be participating in more than one model at a time. Right now, our focus is a federal private cloud. I see the day, not too far in the distance where the shared service centers kind of connect their clouds together and end up in a community cloud for shared services. And I definitely see — and it may happen before the community cloud — I see a hybrid cloud evolving. We’re having discussions with a lot of cloud service providers out there who are interested in potential partnership arrangements, and so we’re just trying to determine what would be the model that our clients would best benefit from. That’s still an analysis underway at this point.

FCB: We know you can’t mention specific discussions with providers, but when you talk about a hybrid cloud, we’re talking about maybe a private cloud in a public cloud where it’s partitioned off and secured?

DB: That’s exactly right. There are some elements of our cloud services that we have a inter-connection, if you will, with a public cloud provider for information or services that might be completely public information — and then keep running in our private cloud the PII kind of information and things like that that shared services has to pay extra attention to and meet different security requirements with.

FCB: When you look a year or two — or even five years out — where do you see your cloud? Do you see it as specific around shared services or something broader?

DB: I see our services being a little broader than shared services because of two primary areas.

First is because the value that our clients derive from our shared services today is through the business applications that they use in our shared services center. So, our primary focus has been software-as-a-service enabling those business applications. So, two or three years from now, we’ll have many, many business applications software-as-a-service enabled in the cloud in areas like HR, financial management and procurement applications and things of that nature.

The second area is quite a bit broader because we are a shared service center that manages Privacy Act information and personally identifiable information, we focus on the security levels that are appropriate to that type of information. So, we see a niche in the infrastructure-as-a-service area for anybody’s mission application — any other agency’s mission application — doing whatever it needs to do that has a FIPS 199 moderate security requirement associated with it. It’s not high security, but it’s not public information either. It’s in between at the moderate level. We see any application that has that security requirement fitting very, very well in our infrastructure service.

FCB: Obviously, this is going to be a fee-for-service — you guys are a fee-for-service organization — have you worked out yet what that cost would be? Have you started down that path?

DB: We definitely have. We’re still doing analysis because the services are being deployed in a phased, incremental fashion. For example, on our infrastructure-as-a-service development test environment that is in testing now, we’ve done some very through analyses of the pricing model in comparison to some public offerings that are similar.

Now, our services aren’t exactly the same as the public offerings, either. As I pointed out, there’s a bit higher level of security [with our applications]. We do manage the infrastructure still, so there’s a managed services element associated with it. But our pricing, we believe, is appropriate for the additional services that we have to offer in comparison. So, we’re seeing a potential price differential somewhere between 10 to 20 percent from our services to what’s available now in a public cloud.


Interior’s National Business Center hopes to start offering IaaS soon

October 28, 2009

As we’ve been telling you, the Federal Cloud Blog got to go to this year’s Executive Leadership Conference in Williamsburg, Va.

While there, we caught up with Doug Bourgeois, Director of the Interior Department’s National Business Center.

Today, we bring you a bit of that interview.


Listen to the first half of FCB’s interview with Doug Bourgeois


Federal Cloud Blog: The National Business Center is taking a serious look at cloud computing. Talk about where you see how cloud computing can really affect or improve the way you deliver services to other federal agencies.

douglas_bourgeois

Doug Bourgeois, Director, National Business Council, Interior Dept.

Doug Bourgeois: Cloud computing has several benefits, from a consumer of cloud services perspective.

One that is drawing a lot of interest in terms of the potential clients that we’re talking to now is the considerable improvement in service levels. In other words, it takes a matter of minutes to provision a new virtual server in a cloud environment. So, if you want to start a development project or get something underway, you don’t have to wait for the procurement process to go and carry its due course and have the technical folks install new equipment and so on and so forth. It really is — it’s an over-used word — but it really a paradigm shift in the way IT services are delivered.

Then the second benefit is, instead of having to purchase capital equipment, it just becomes a much less expensive expense item. You can also turn it off when you no longer need it, so you don’t have that poor investment.

FCB: When do you foresee getting a pilot going or getting into the early stages of cloud computing around shared services? Are you already there or is it a few more months out ?

DB: We’re very, very close. We are running some internal systems in the cloud now. For example, our Lotus notes application has been running in the cloud for several months. That’s part of our process for becoming familiar with the technology and how to operate it and optimize it. Our plan will have a soft launch for infrastructure-as-a-service development test environment in the month of November. [We’d like] earlier rather than later, but we’ll see. The testing is looking really, really good right now. [It] will be completed in the next week or so and then we’ll see where it goes from there. So, we’re expecting to have something ready pretty soon.

FCB: This would be for financial management, human resources — your customers that you provide the shared services for? Or would this be more internal to NBC as they develop new applications for your customers?

DB: The initial launch actually is a true infrastructure-as-a-services offering, which means it’s really intended for anybody who needs an environment to work in. So, for example, [if] somebody wants to do a software development project with our infrastructure service, we’ll be able to come in and provision a combination of CPU resources and memory and storage and so on and so forth and be able to load up their software development tool into that environment and start writing code. So, you can get started writing your software in the cloud with this service.

FCB: To be clear, this is software development for anything you want? It doesn’t have to be around the shared services that you guys provide. It could be an application that is very specific to one agency?

DB: That’s exactly right. In the shared services sense, when you get more to the business application, which are getting to the software-as-a-service type of an offering, but in order to have software-as-a-service enabled — it all sits on an infrastructure-as-a-service foundation. So we’re kind of incrementally getting to the software-as-a-service part and the first part is infrastructure-as-a-service, which is going live in the month of November. We’re real pleased about that.

FCB: Where do you see some of your biggest challenges and roadblocks that you’re going to have to overcome to not only get this up, because you’re pretty close, but to get people to use it [and] get people to really trust it?

DB: I think that’s what we’ve been very focused on. We identify it as the barriers to adoption. On the one hand, we believe that there is so much potential benefit that there’s going to be very high demand. This is really a new computing model that is going to take off. So, we’re looking at it from the vantage point and saying — what would cause people to be initially concerned that we’ll have to overcome? Security is a big one. [That is] generally the number one issue. There’s a whole different set of security issues that people are concerned about. Then, I think a second [concern] is, people don’t necessarily know what they can do with it. There’s a lot of confusion about cloud offerings.

Come back tomorrow when we’ll have more with Doug Bourgeois!